My picture threads consist of images I have taken that focus on the architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, and theming of the facilities highlighted. They may also contain short descriptions and commentary, but will not focus on construction progress or special events or memorabilia or food selections or my traveling companions. Hopefully these threads are a good introduction for those who have not seen these places yet. All killer, no filler!
Busch Gardens Tampa photographed in November 2008:
Known as Busch Gardens Africa at the time of these photos, this combination theme park and zoo is a nicely themed exotic collection of 9 named sections that mostly focus on African motifs. The park is essentially laid out in a large loop, this tour will follow that loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
The entry area of the park is a grouping of Moorish buildings that contain the ticket booths and gates, shops, dining, and several theaters.
Park Entry Sign:
Moroccan Palace Theater:
This large indoor theater houses a major African-themed stage show called KaTonga.
This well-detailed area recreating an archaelogical dig site is home to several shops, games, a small walk-through exhibit of King Tut's Tomb and an intense suspended rollercoaster called Montu.
NAIROBI and SERENGETI PLAIN:
These twoareas feel like one area and are by far the most zoo-focused parts of the park and rely less on distinctive architecture and more on naturalistic animal habitats. In fact, Serengeti Plain is essentially a multiple-acre series of large open animal enclosures viewed from its edges by several areas and modes of transport.
Large rocky and forested enclosures for chimpanzees and gorillas are featured here along a path with multiple viewing areas.
Edge of Africa:
A series of excellent animal exhibits is located along this walking path on the edge of the Serengeti Plain. Seperate enclosures include one for waterfowl and storks, meerkats, vultures, African lions, spotted hyenas, African crocodiles, hippopotamus and lake fish, and ring-tailed lemurs.
The large mixed-species animal exhibits here are viewed from paths as well as the train that snakes around much of the park and the Skyride that travels directly over the habitats. An extra-fee tour on a keeper's truck goes directly into this area for handfeeding some of the animals.
This ride travels through or beside several more large animal enclosures and is themed to an open-air vehicle race with a live narrator/driver. A unique feature of the attraction is when the vehicle enters a rickety bridge that 'collapses' into the water, at which point the vehicle is floated on a raft down a river which then comes to rest at a shoreline for the vehicle to drive up onto land and continue the tour.
Black Rhino Exhibit:
This area is inspired by the famous ancient desert city in Mali and is a scenic collection of shops and dining and games and rides.
Shops and Games:
This large theater play 3-D films.
The Desert Grill:
A large indoor restaurant with a show stage.
A spinning ride.
A small rollercoaster.
A small looping rollercoaster.
A swinging looping ride.
This area features bumper cars, Congo River Rapids, a station for the train ride, and a rollercoaster called Kumba.
The newest area of the park is this stylized combination of animal exhibits and an adventure play area with a few childrens rides.
Two adjoining rocky tiger exhibits are viewed from a bridge, an exhibit building, or a bridge.
The play area is an extensive series of climbing structures and suspended bridges and includes Wild Surge, a small tower ride set in a rocky grotto, and Jungle Flyers, a suspended zipline-like ride that soars over the structures and trees.
This area has another of the park's train stations as well as two minimally themed water flume rides and Sheikra, a large vertical drop rollercoaster that appears to splash into a rustic reservoir.
The last area covers much of the older part of the park and is less focused than the others. It contains various bird exhibits and ponds, a vintage 1960's lakeside restaurant, a wooden rollercoaster called Gwazi, and a children's play area.
Land of the Dragons:
The childrens play area is a richly detailed area themed to friendly bright dragons that features small rides and a treehouse. Its theme does not fit the park however. I understand it will be renovated and rethemed to Sesame Street...a step backwards for this area to relate to the park.